Heading into UFC 110, a lot of fighters were declared "done." Mirko CroCop, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Wanderlei Silva all had a lot to prove. Surprisingly, Silva put on the best performance of the 3. To be sure, none of these guys are even remotely as dominant as they were at one point, but what exactly does it mean to be done? Wanderlei Silva is certainly not done as a fan favorite. He's certainly not done as a competitive fighter in the top MMA organization in the world; he just defeated Michael Bisping, who is a more than capable fighter. He's done dominating divisions and going on reigns of terror, but does that mean he should have to retire? I think not.
As a Wanderlei Silva fan, what I saw Saturday night was heartening. No, he is never going to be the dominant monster of old ever again. Some fans can't bear to watch a Wanderlei Silva who isn't scaring his opponents to death before the fight starts, and for them the idea of watching him fight even fights with Michael Bisping is a travesty. From my perspective, hanging onto that kind of nostalgia is really a big waste of time and negative energy. Wanderlei Silva probably only has a limited time left in which he can even be competitive in the UFC; isn't it a better idea to just appreciate it while it lasts instead of pining for an era of dominance over hand-picked and undermatched opponents?
The problem for Silva right now is his chin more than anything else. In the old days he was unafraid to wade in wildly, now he’s a lot more cautious after being knocked out a few times. I do think he has the skills to be a strong top 10 middleweight in the UFC, even without his old ability to take damage. He has nice leg kicks, and his ability to instantly change a fight with a big shot is something his opponents won’t take lightly.
Last night sold me on the fact that Wanderlei Silva is not done. At 185 he was moving a lot better than he was against Franklin, and for the first time in his UFC career he went 3 rounds without looking gassed. He also moved a lot faster than he did against Franklin, and wasn't nearly as flat-footed. 185 is obviously the right size for him at this point in his career, and the division could use his star power.
There are a number of interesting fights for Silva at middleweight. A potential clash with Akiyama only makes sense to me if it’s in Japan, as it’s really only going to be a big deal to Japanese fans. Silva won’t fight Demian Maia, but he could potentially rematch Vitor Belfort or fight Chael Sonnen. The latter could make for a very entertaining season of The Ultimate Fighter.
My first choice for Silva is a fight with Nate Marquardt. Nate is a top 5 middleweight with a good all-around game, and a win or loss to Marquardt would really tell us a lot about where Silva stands at 185. Nate really prefers to stand in his fights as of late, so it could potentially be a very explosive fight.